At birth, the body has a natural immunity to some diseases, but there are many diseases for which the body has no natural defenses. Vaccines work by stimulating the body’s immune system to develop antibodies to fight off specific diseases like mumps, measles, and chickenpox, helping children and adults avoid serious diseases and their side effects. Not only will the child stay healthier, but having vaccines also prevents diseases from being spread from one person to another. Schools, workplaces, and other agencies have vaccine requirements in place to prevent epidemics and to help ensure the health of specific populations, including students.
Vaccines use extremely low levels of dead or live germs (depending on the type of vaccine) that are injected into the body at precise amounts and at specific time intervals. Once inside the body, the vaccine solution alerts the immune system, which goes to work producing antibodies used to fight that specific germ. These antibodies remain in the body for a specific period of time which can range from a year or two to an entire lifetime. If the person comes in contact with the germ after vaccination, the body will be in a much better position to fight off the germ and prevent the disease from developing. Vaccines that do not last for an entire lifetime will need to be “refreshed” with “booster” shots provided at specific intervals throughout childhood and the adult years.
No, vaccines will not make a child ill. However, some children may experience mild achiness or low-grade fever for a day or two as the body builds up its defense system. These side effects are mild, temporary and a completely natural effect produced by the body’s immune system as it creates new antibodies. In rare instances, a child may be allergic to a substance contained in the vaccine solution. Before having any immunizations, it’s important to let the physician know about any existing allergies, especially allergies to eggs, which are used in the manufacture of some vaccines.
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